Yoga has become a popular form of exercise and relaxation, with people of all ages and fitness levels hitting the mat.
Some studies have shown a link between yoga and better heart health, but you might be surprised to learn just how this ancient practice can help your heart.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga combines breathing, meditation, and specific body poses (sometimes called “asanas”) to promote health and relaxation. There are many different types of yoga; some are more physically active and challenging, while others focus more on breathing and meditation.
Health Benefits of Yoga
Yoga can benefit your body and mind in many ways, including:
- Lowering your blood pressure, which lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
- Helping you reach or maintain a healthy weight, which lowers your risk for heart disease and diabetes
- Making you stronger and more flexible
- Reducing chronic pain
- Helping you get a better night’s sleep
- Offering a healthy way to cope with stress
Is Yoga Cardio?
Although yoga can be a challenging activity, it does not count towards the physical activity requirements of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, according to the American Heart Association. Make sure you keep walking, biking, or doing other aerobic activities in addition to yoga to meet your weekly activity goals.
Yoga and Heart Health
So, if yoga isn’t cardio, how does it help your heart?
The breathing and meditation exercises you learn on the mat can help you feel calmer and less stressed, which goes a long way for heart health. And, if you’ve had a heart attack or other cardiac event like bypass surgery, yoga may help you cope with the depression and anxiety that can follow. In some cases, yoga can be part of cardiac rehabilitation because it offers a gentle form of activity that can be easily adapted for any fitness level.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before starting any new activity to make sure it is right for you, so make sure to check with your doctor before starting a yoga practice.
To learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).